Friday, 25 October 2013

Beware The 2D Character!

Ah, Characters. Sometimes we love them, sometimes we love to hate them but either way they certainly move us to write some pretty crazy stuff with them involved.

The major issue I tend to find with writing characters is how best to make them seem like real, breathing people rather than just figures on a page. The best way to make people feel as though they are a part of the story or are witnessing something happening right in front of them, is to make the characters so realistic that your reader isn't hung up on trying to imagine how they act or their personalities.

The way to do this? Start to believe in the characters yourself.

Characters, just like people, have more than one aspect of their personality. No person is solely bad just as no person is solely good but rather each person has elements of both: just like yin and yang.
Take for example the famous literary character of Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. He is, overall, considered the 'good guy' of the story. He saves Lydia from ruining her reputation with Mr. Wickham by going after the pair and ends up together with Elizabeth at the end of the story.

However, he is not without his faults.

He is renowned for his pride and cold demeanour towards strangers as well as his lack of willingness to participate in social events. But it is these imperfections which, in their own way, make the character so prominent in the book.

  • Think of a person, male or female and a job that they may have. This can be absolutely anything! From a female chef to a male accountant...
  • What age are they roughly? Twenties to thirties? Middle aged? Just retired?
  • What are their good qualities? Are they patient? Kind? A great parent? A good friend?
  • Now, what are their bad qualities? Do they smoke? Do they have a secret addiction? Are they abusive to their partners? Do they have a dark secret? And if so, what?
  • How do their lives balance out with these qualities? Are they internally conflicted? Are they in denial? Have they made peace with themselves?
  • Finally, would you say that overall they are a 'good 'or a 'bad' character?
Can't decide? Not a problem! Literature is filled with Anti-heros and antagonists you can sympathise with- like Winston from George Orwell's '1984' or Amir from 'The Kite Runner'.

Go on, give it a go! Let me know how it turned out in the comments sections below!

Lou x

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